Friday, May 13, 2022

The Overlord's Interview Tips For The Recent Grad...

 A "graduate" is merely someone who spent an enormous amount of money to faithfully regurgitate whatever a professor -- who has probably never done whatever it is they teach for real or profit -- has been serving for the last 20 years.

Here's how stupid "a graduate" is:

You went to an institution that is a by-product of capitalism, on borrowed funds that are also the by-product of capitalism, to be indoctrinated by socialists who are paid with the by-products of capitalism, so that you could emerge uniquely  unqualified for anything that capitalism finds useful and buried under a mountain of debt.

But nice piece of paper ya got there, Sonny. -- The Overlord

It is that time of year, again. Soon, there will be tens of thousands, if not more, young people who will be emerging from the Enstudpidation Factories seeking gainful employment. They will, finally, be making the Journey into Adulthood.

And every year at this time, I get a mailbox full of requests from "friends" I haven't spoken to in years, from someone's auntie I only know by face from the local watering hole, youngins responding to an advert, or automated "job matching" sites who splatter resumes all over cyberspace in the foolish belief that a computer can find "the perfect" candidate for every job.

This year is no different, despite the fact that I have packed up the tent. I don't work for anyone, anymore, and my own company is now shuttered. Mostly because I'm tired of the people in the industry, I don't like where the industry is headed, and I'm getting too old to be a fucking babysitter.

Because that's what "Management" entails, nowadays, with the influx of the bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed-with-no-fucking-brains.

So, I can't help you get a job (as if? You going to return the favor, one day?) and I can't hire you. I'm done.

But, what I can do, Padawan, is give you some useful advice on how to ace an interview so as to take advantage of any opportunity that might come your way. I'm going to teach you what Professor Dumbfuck and Mommy and Daddy didn't. This information is useful. You can keep it for the rest of your life.

And best of all -- it's free.

Let's begin with some advice about YOU, my young apprentices. There are a few things you need to know -- more like you need to accept -- as you begin your quest to achieve a paycheck, and hopefully, the career you hope to have. This is going to be harsh, but consider it tough love.

No particular order:

1. No one cares that you have a degree. It's not all that uncommon. You're not special, in this regard. Millions of people have them. And while 10-15% of you should be proud of this achievement, the vast bulk of you are the result of a conveyor-belt process that merely sells "qualifications". You didn't "get an education". You didn't pay for that. That's not why you went the Day Care Center With a Basketball Team.

You went to college to NETWORK. The contacts you made there -- frat buddies, drinking friends, the people in your study groups, roommates, and all the rest -- are, potentially, sources of information concerning opportunities. In future, these might prove very useful to you, as you (hope) they can be the wellspring of job offers and business ventures later on in life. Initially, they'll be useless to you because they're in the same state that you are -- pretty much useless to an employer.

Generally speaking, the people who instructed you in school fall into two, broad categories (although there are exceptions to this rule).

Category A are people who went through all the trouble of getting a degree in a certain field, and then went straight to teaching.

Category B are people who may have some experience in what they are teaching, but couldn't hack it "in the real world" and so took up teaching. 

In either case, these folks are likely to have been teaching the same things, the same way, for years. And a lot of it is outdated or no longer operative, which means you will have to be retrained once you're hired -- so that you can do it THE RIGHT WAY. This process can take a few years, usually two, and in the meantime, about half of the people we hire will quit within that time frame.

This is an important consideration that will affect Point #2.

You're on your own here, and have to figure out how to navigate terra incognito by yourself. Which brings us to Point #2.

2. You haven't done anything. When you get to the interview, the interviewer essentially has nothing that tells him/her about you or what you may be capable of. This is because you haven't done anything, except spend your life in school up to this point.

We can't ask you about experience, because you have none. We can't ask about work history, because that is lacking, too. We can't ask for references (that count) because you probably haven't accumulated very many of those, either.

The person who will decide whether to hire you or not has to make a judgment call about you. What they are seeking are a few, relevant qualities, which I will list in Point #3, but an important factor to bear in mind here is this:

If you ever get to discussing salary (by the way, if the interviewer never mentions it, you're toast) and you find the offer lower than your expectations, there's a reason for it. That reason is that since you haven't accomplished much of anything, that person is making a bet on your potential, and like all good betting strategies, the point is to not risk much on an unknown. If you get an offer it is because you've convinced someone that you have potential. We'll cover how to convey a sense of potential in Point #4.

3. The Qualities You Need. From my own experience, I know that I look for four things in my interviews with the neophyte candidate.

The first is honesty. It is quite easy to discover if someone is an honest person or not. Only psychopaths and anti-social types can manage to hide their dishonesty, and even these usually give out some other signal that identifies them, if you know how to look for it. I have a specific question that I ask (no, I will not reveal what it is) that experience tells me will produce a lie about 90% of the time.

Never lie. It will always come back to haunt you. Especially when you don't know something. I'd rather hear "I'm sorry, but I don't know that" than listen to someone trip all over their tongue trying to bullshit me.

The second is intelligence. If you're not well-spoken, if you're not well-read, if you can't speak clearly and with some diction and a touch of eloquence (we're not looking for Churchill, just someone who can speak well), you're doing yourself a disservice. And while idiots can also learn to speak with aplomb and smoothness, that type tends to talk too much and thus expose the fucktard.

The third is confidence. NOT ARROGANCE. Learn the difference.

4. Personal Appearance/Body Language. This is vitally important. The old saying that "you only get one chance to make a first impression" is operative here. My personal preference is to see young men and ladies who are well-dressed (important points: shine them shoes, make them creases sharp. Someone who takes the time to do these things shouts "a detailed-oriented person!"), well-groomed, and who don't reek of really bad perfume and cologne.

Gentlemen, if I can still smell you 15 minutes after you've left, you're probably not getting a call back. And ladies, minimal makeup is recommended. This is a job interview, not a date.

Face piercings and visible tattoos turn me off. The reason being that it is either a sign of a lack of self-respect (you're mutilating yourself), or that you're a follower (you got these things because everyone else did). The "I'm a Free Spirit expressing myself in body art" nonsense is a crock. I don't care if you have piercings or tats, I just don't need to see them. Nor do I want to.

Admittedly, this is a personal peeve of mine. Others have differing opinions.

Body language is seriously important. Now, I expect you to be a bit nervous. This is natural. But if you can't sit still, if you keep wiping your hands on your pants, covering your mouth with your hands, if you have a weak handshake (an overpowering one is bad, too. That's a subconscious sign of someone trying to assert dominance, and you're here as a supplicant, so cool it). If you can't maintain eye contact, if you slouch, sprawl in a chair, have your head on a swivel, can't stop playing with your hands, are fussing with jewelry, scratching your face or nose, constantly running your fingers through your hair, stroke a beard, sweat or flush when asked a tough question, these are all signals that you have some character trait that I'm probably not going to like. 

I've been at this a very long time. I pick up on this sort of thing because I was trained to do so. Many other hiring managers and HR types are, too. It is a very useful skill to have. One of my favorite means of evoking "a tell" from an applicant is to discuss money with them; when they ask what the salary is, instead of answering them verbally I write it down on a slip of paper and slide it to them -- specifically to see their facial expressions.

You can tell a lot from a frown or a raised eyebrow.

Remember: you are selling a product here, and that product is YOU. It is at this stage of your life all you have to offer. You have to make the product as attractive as possible.

5. How to convey "I'm a Professional"

The secondary hallmarks of "a professional" I've just mentioned: act the part, look the part, assume the part, BE THE PART.

The true hallmark of a professional, however, even more so than skill, is ATTITUDE.

This is more than just an emotional state, and while we hiring managers appreciate someone who is co-operative (which you should be), is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done (that's what you're being hired for!), punctual (a necessity), organized, and seeking challenges, we also need people who -- above all else -- are OPEN MINDED and not overly-emotional.

We don't like yellers. I personally detest cheerleaders. We don't like the squish that melts in a puddle of feelz and tears when rebuked. We like people who learn from their mistakes (because we expect you'll make many of them, at first). We hate quitters, whiners, complainers, excuse-makers, people who can't tell time, who can't follow instructions.

Your new job is not just a means of making money or gaining job-related experience: it's a means of acquiring useful life skills. Prime among these are how to collaborate, how to work efficiently, learning when to speak and when to remain silent, sticking to deadlines, learning to ask the right questions, learning how to make good, well-thought-out decisions, and above all, discipline.

Because college taught you none of that, in a real sense. This is because college has no minefields: there were few, if any, repercussions for a late term paper. You could always drop a class if it was too challenging or didn't interest you, failure was often not fatal to anything except a GPA and you could always make that class up.

The Real World is different. Here, money is at stake. often very serious money. So are reputations. And the penalties for failure can be severe: unemployment, demotion, loss of future opportunities, possibly even bankruptcy. It's a serious business. Learning the Rocks and Shoals is part of the process, and sometimes you wreck.

But a professional swims to shore and then builds a new boat with his bare hands.

One little mental trick I try to pass on to those who show promise is to tell them to stop thinking in terms of "success" or "failure". Failure is a given, few avoid it, and success is never guaranteed, and so when you suffer a setback the trick is turn "failure" into "a negative success".

You do this by learning from your mistakes so that you do not repeat them. If you've learned why you were wrong and have corrected that problem, you have snatched a small victory from the jaws of defeat. Sometimes, small victories are the only ones you get for a long while.

Take every win you can get.

6. The Resume. This is important. This is your calling card. This is the first means by which I'm going to learn about you, so do it right.

I warn you, I'm a stickler for this sort of thing, and your mileage may vary depending upon the person who gets your resume.

To begin with, do not embellish your accomplishments or experience. Do not "pad" your resume with nonsense. Putting your hobbies or (minor, unrelated to the job) accomplishments on the page is not always necessary, or wanted. If someone wants those details of your life, they'll ask for them. It doesn't necessarily hurt to do so, but try to be brief in this regard.

Otherwise, it is all just more words on a resume, that, frankly, is going to be read in 45 seconds or less.

Because there's 200 other resumes to read.

A more recent addition to e-mailed resumes is the attached video. God, how I detest the attached video. The reasons why are that, first, as previously stated, most managers are not spending much time reading a resume, and a good many will not take the time to watch a video. Secondly, the main point of an interview -- to me -- is to have that person present so that I can make a better-informed evaluation of them. Videos hide things -- they can be edited or rehearsed.

Some managers find those videos useful or informative, but I personally do not.

And, finally, some advice on what life is about to throw at all of you like a monkey flinging feces.

You are going to struggle. This cannot be avoided. If not immediately, then at some point in your career. Struggle is not a bad thing, in fact, it can be quite useful to you, and in that respect should not be looked upon so much as a hardship as another learning tool.

The Facts of Life are these: Life is Hard (after all, it kills you in the end). It is often Unfair, too. You can't have something just because you want it -- you have to earn it. The World doesn't care if your cat died, it continues spinning, nonetheless. Your feelings are also unimportant, particularly where money is involved. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ask for respect and consideration when that's called for, only that such things are not an entitlement -- they are earned. Privileges and rewards are unevenly distributed  for a reason -- some earned it more than others.

Nothing will ever be dropped into your lap as if by magic.

You're going to have good days and there are going to be days when it seems the entire universe has gone to shit.

The strong people overcome. They adapt.

The intellectually-honest accept that this is the way of the world, and they evaluate themselves against their competition and circumstances.

Struggle is the mother of ambition.

You're a lot stronger than you think you are, and adversity is a great stimulus for self-improvement and risk-taking (calculated risk taking, I might add). You will emerge from the dark clouds of despair so long as you learn to persevere, to accept and adapt to that which you cannot change, and finally, are willing to go the extra mile, in all things.

The (honest) work you put in now, all the pain you will suffer in the beginning, all the sacrifices you will have to make, all the crap you will have to dig out from under before seeing daylight, will serve you well later in life, and be transferrable to so many aspects of it other than the strictly professional.

Good luck!

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